Support Payments 2013
P102 (E) Rev. 13
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- Is this guide for you?
- What are support payments?
What are the tax rules?
- Tax rules for court orders or written agreements made before May 1997
- Tax rules for court orders or written agreements made after April 1997
- Shared custody and the amount for an eligible dependant
- Completing your income tax and benefit return
- Registering your court order or written agreement
- Deductions from your pay
- Payments made after death
- Payments to or from a non-resident
- Online service
- For more information
This guide is for you if you made or received support payments under a court order or a written agreement. If you do not have a court order or written agreement, the payments are not subject to the tax rules that apply to support payments.
This guide explains the different tax rules for an order or agreement made before May 1997 or after April 1997. It includes information on the exceptions that may apply to you and instructions on how to complete your income tax and benefit return.
Allowance – is a specific sum of money established in a court order or written agreement as the amount the payer has to pay to the recipient. It can include a sum that has to be adjusted according to a formula or index (such as the cost-of-living index or a percentage of the payer's income), even though the exact future amounts payable are not specified in the order or agreement. An allowance must be payable on a periodic basis to be considered support payments.
- a person, born within or outside marriage, of whom you are the natural parent;
- a person who is wholly dependent on you for support and of whom you have (or immediately before the person attained the age of 19 years had) in law or in fact, the custody and control;
- a child of your spouse or common-law partner; or
- a child you adopted.
Common-law partner – this applies to a person who is not your spouse , with whom you are living in a conjugal relationship, and to whom at least one of the following situations applies. He or she:
|a)||has been living with you in a conjugal relationship for at least 12 continuous months;|
|b)||is the parent of your child by birth or adoption; or|
|c)||has custody and control of your child (or had custody and control immediately before the child turned 19 years of age) and your child is wholly dependent on that person for support.|
In addition, an individual immediately becomes your common-law partner if you previously lived together in a conjugal relationship for at least 12 continuous months and you have resumed living together in such a relationship. Under proposed changes, this condition will no longer exist. The effect of this proposed change is that a person (other than a person described in b) or c)) will be your common-law partner only after your current relationship with that person has lasted at least 12 continuous months. This proposed change will apply to 2001 and later years.
In this definition, 12 continuous months includes any period that you were separated for less than 90 days because of a breakdown in the relationship.
Court order – is a decree, order, or judgment made by a court or other competent tribunal, such as a family court.
Payer – is a person who makes support payments to a recipient under a court order or written agreement. A payer includes:
- the recipient's current or former spouse or common-law partner; or
- the parent of a child of whom the recipient is a legal parent.
Periodic payments – the term "periodic" does not necessarily mean frequent, although there has to be a series of payments. For example, the payments could be made monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. The court order or written agreement has to set out the timing of the payments. Only a new order or agreement can change the payment schedule.
Specific-purpose payments – are amounts payable under a court order or written agreement for specific expenses (for example, rent) for the maintenance of the recipient or the child in the recipient's custody.
Recipient – is a person who receives support payments from a payer under a court order or written agreement. A recipient includes:
- the payer's current or former spouse or common-law partner; or
- the parent of a child of whom the payer is a legal parent.
A child cannot be considered the recipient of support payments for income tax purposes.
Separated – you are separated when you start living separate and apart from your spouse or common-law partner because of a breakdown in the relationship for a period of at least 90 days and you have not reconciled.
Once you have been separated for 90 days (because of a breakdown in the relationship), the effective day of your separated status is the date you started living separate and apart.
Third-party payments – are specific-purpose payments made to a person other than the recipient.
Written agreement – under a written agreement, a person agrees to make regular payments to maintain his or her current or former spouse or common-law partner, children of the relationship, or both. The written agreement should normally be signed and dated by both parties.
A support payment is an amount payable or receivable as an allowance on a periodic basis for the maintenance of the recipient, children of the recipient, or both.
There are two types of support payments; spousal support and child support. The tax rules are different depending on the type.
Spousal support (support for a spouse or common-law partner) means support payments made under a court order or written agreement that are only for the recipient's maintenance.
Child support (support for a child) means any support payment that is not identified in the court order or written agreement as being only for the recipient's maintenance. If an order or agreement provides for a global amount of support to be paid for the recipient and a child, the full amount is considered support for a child.
Paternity agreements must be in the form of a court order issued by a court or a competent tribunal in accordance with the laws of a province. A written paternity agreement is not acceptable on its own even if it is registered with the court.
2. If the recipient is the payer's current or former spouse or common law partner, the payer must be living separate and apart from the recipient at the time the payment was made because of a breakdown in the relationship. Otherwise, the payer must be the legal parent of a child of the recipient.
Under certain conditions, payments can be made to a third-party. For more information, see Specific-purpose and third-party payments.
In certain situations, your payments are considered support payments even if they do not meet the preceding conditions. These situations may arise when the payments are:
- made before the date of the court order or written agreement;
- specific-purpose or third-party payments; or
- lump-sum payments.
An amount paid before a court order or written agreement takes place or comes into effect is recognized if the order or agreement states that any amount previously paid is deemed paid under the order or agreement. However, the payments must be made in the year the order or agreement was made, or in the preceding year.
Since the couple separated in January 2011, Brendan has been paying $500 monthly to Sarah in spousal support. On January 8, 2013, a written agreement was established confirming that Brendan is required to pay $500 monthly in support.
The written agreement also indicates that the amounts paid before January 2013 are considered paid and received under this agreement.
The payments made in 2012 and 2013 are considered support payments because they were paid in the year of the written agreement and the previous year. Therefore, these payments can be deducted.
The 2011 payments are not considered support payments because they were not paid in the year of the written agreement or in the previous year, so they cannot be deducted by the payer and are not included in the recipient's income.
Third-party payments are support payments made under a court order or written agreement to someone other than the recipient (a third-party). Third-party payments that the recipient can use as he or she sees fit are considered support payments only if they meet conditions 1, 2, 3, and 4. For more information, see Interpretation Bulletin IT-530, Support Payments.
Specific-purpose payments are amounts made under a court order or written agreement for specific expenses for the maintenance of the recipient. These amounts may be paid directly to the recipient or to a third-party.
Specific-purpose payments include:
- rent, property taxes, insurance premiums;
- educational or medical expenses (such as prescription drugs or eye glasses);
- maintenance costs for the home in which the recipient lives; and
- up to 20% of the original principal amount of any debt from buying or improving the home in which the recipient lives.
However, if the recipient cannot use the specific-purpose payments as he or she sees fit, they are not considered support payments, unless the court order or written agreement states that the recipient will include the payments in income, and that the payer can deduct them.
Under a written agreement, Melissa has to pay $900 per month to her former spouse, Alex, as an allowance for maintenance. This written agreement provides that Melissa will pay an amount of $300 directly to Alex and $600 directly to his landlord for the rent of his apartment. The agreement also provides that Alex may, at any time, change the arrangement and require that the entire $900 be paid directly to him.
The monthly amount of $600 paid directly to the landlord and the monthly amount of $300 payable to Alex are considered support payments because he can use the money as he sees fit.
An amount paid as one lump-sum will generally not be considered a support payment because it is not paid on a periodic basis.
However, if periodic payments required by a court order or written agreement have fallen into arrears and one payment is made to bring these requirements up to date, that payment would be considered a support payment.
The following are generally not support payments:
- a lump-sum payment made in place of several periodic payments that were imposed under a court order or written agreement, but were not yet due to be paid (a prepayment). However, if a prepayment was made for the sole purpose of securing funds to the recipient, it may be considered a support payment;
- a lump-sum payment made under a court order or written agreement for a period before the date of the order or agreement;
- instalment payments of a lump-sum; and
- payments that release the payer from any obligation to pay arrears, future maintenance, or both.
For more information, see Interpretation Bulletin IT-530, Support Payments.
Jason and Tracy have been living separate and apart since August 2011. Their court order requires Jason to pay $500 per month for Tracy's maintenance. In June 2012, Jason lost his job and was unable to make the spousal support payments. In February 2013, he got a new job. He is in arrears of $4,000. Jason and Tracy returned to court and reached a settlement where it was agreed that Jason will pay $3,500 of the $4,000 he owes. The other $500 will not be paid.
The $3,500 lump-sum payment is considered a settlement amount paid by Jason to release him from his liability for the arrears and therefore, does not qualify as a support payment because it was not made in accordance with the original agreement.
Answer a few questions to find out if the payments made or received are considered support payments.
Answer a few questions to find out if the payments made or received are considered support payments.
The tax rules that apply to your situation depend on whether your court order or written agreement was made:
- before May 1997; or
- after April 1997.
Support payments for a child or spouse or common-law partner, under a court order or written agreement made before May 1997, are taxable to the recipient and deductible by the payer unless one of the following four situations applies to you.
If a court order or written agreement made before May 1997 is modified after April 1997 to change the amount of child support payable to the recipient, the tax rules in effect after April 1997 apply. This means that these payments are no longer taxable or deductible beginning on the date of the modification, which is the date that the payer pays the revised amount to the recipient for the first time.
Automatic changes in the amount of support, based on cost of living increases or changes in the payer's income, that have been provided for in the order or agreement are not included in this rule. For more information on cost of living increases, visit the Statistics Canada Web site. If you live in Quebec, visit the Institut de la statistique du Québec.
If you have a court order or written agreement made before May 1997 that remains valid and a new order or agreement with the same person was made after April 1997, and the result of this new order or agreement is to change the total amount of child support payable, the tax rules in effect after April 1997 apply for support payable or receivable under both orders and agreements as of the commencement day of the new order or agreement.
A court order or written agreement may specify that child support payments made after a certain date (not earlier than May 1, 1997) will no longer be taxable and deductible.
If you have a court order or written agreement dated earlier than May 1997, you can elect to have the tax rules in effect after April 1997 apply to you without having to change the order or agreement.
The payer and the recipient must both agree to make the election. Both parties must complete and sign Form T1157, Election for Child Support Payments, and send it to us.
Once the election has been accepted, the order or agreement is subject to the tax rules that apply after April 1997. The election cannot be revoked.
A separate form must be completed for each order or agreement.
If any of the previous situations apply, support payments made or received under that order or agreement will be subject to the tax rules in effect for orders and agreements made after April 1997 .
Generally, child support payments made under a court order or written agreement made after April 1997 (or before May 1997 if any other situations mentioned above apply) are not deductible by the payer and do not have to be included in income by the recipient. Spousal support payments continue to be deductible to the payer and must be included in the recipient's income. The following explanations provide more information about these rules.
Under court orders and written agreements made after April 1997, any support amount that is not identified in the order or agreement as being solely for the support of the recipient is considered to be child support. These amounts are not deductible by the payer and do not have to be included in income by the recipient.
Generally, support payments made under a court order or written agreement for the maintenance of the recipient are taxable to the recipient and deductible by the payer if:
- the order or agreement clearly specifies the amount to be paid for the spouse or common-law partner; and
- all payments for child support are fully paid for the current and previous years.
For more information, go to Support payments.
Priority of child support
If your court order or written agreement specifies child support payments and support payments for the recipient, priority is given to the child support.
This means that all payments made are first considered to have been made toward child support. Any amount paid over and above the child support amount is considered to be support payments for the recipient.
All child support payable to a recipient must be fully paid before any amounts paid as support for the recipient can be claimed as a deduction. Any arrears in the amount of child support is carried forward and added to the next year's support payable.
The priority of child support does not apply when the child support and spouse or common-law partner support are payable under different court orders or written agreements and the recipients are different people.
Beginning January 2012, Mark had to make monthly support payments of $400 ($150 for his former spouse, and $250 for their children). Mark paid $400 from January to March for a total of $1,200. He made no other payment for the remainder of the year. Mark is in arrears for $1,800 in child support.
When he filed his 2012 income tax and benefit return, Mark could not deduct the spousal support payments because he did not fully pay his child support.
In 2013, Mark must fully pay all child support owing for 2012 and 2013 before he can deduct anything he pays for spousal support.
For more information, see Interpretation Bulletin IT-530, Support Payments.
If you and another person were required to make support payments for a child and, as a result, no one would be entitled to claim the amount for an eligible dependant for the child, you can still claim that amount as long as you and the other person(s) paying support agree that you will make the claim. If you cannot agree who will claim this amount for the child, neither of you can make the claim.
Ryan and Chloe share the custody of their child Faith. Faith spends 50% of her time with Ryan and 50% of her time with Chloe. The court order states that Ryan has to pay Chloe $200 a month and that Chloe has to pay Ryan $100 a month. For convenience, Ryan agrees that Chloe does not have to write him a monthly cheque and that he will simply pay her $100 a month, which will fulfill both their support obligations.
Ryan and Chloe agree that Ryan will claim the amount for an eligible dependant on line 305 of his income tax and benefit return. If they did not agree, neither of them could claim the amount on line 305 for Faith.
Nicholas and Christine share the custody of their children Sam and Amy. Sam and Amy spend 50% of their time with Nicholas and 50% of their time with Christine.
The written agreement states that Nicholas has to pay Christine $300 a month and that Christine has to pay Nicholas $400 a month. For convenience, Christine agrees that Nicholas does not have to write her a monthly cheque and that she will simply pay him $100 a month, which will fulfill both their support obligations.
Nicholas will claim the amount for an eligible dependant on line 305 of his income tax and benefit return for Sam. Christine will claim the amount for an eligible dependant on line 305 of her income tax and benefit return for Amy.
A payment based on a court order or written agreement that calculates child support obligations with reference to a statutory scheme (such as The Federal Child Support Guidelines) but does not obligate both parents to pay child support, is not considered a support amount for the recipient, since there is no legal obligation for the recipient to pay an amount. However, the payer may be considered to have made support payments.
William and Julie share custody of their children, Emily and Eric. Emily and Eric spend 50% of their time with William and 50% of their time with Julie. Based on William's and Julie's incomes, the court order states that William has to pay Julie $250 a month according to The Federal Child Support Guidelines. The amount William pays is considered a support payment because he has a legal obligation to pay the amount to Julie. Therefore, William is not entitled to a claim on line 305 for either Emily or Eric. However, Julie can claim an amount for an eligible dependant on line 305 of her income tax and benefit return for Emily or Eric, as Julie has no legal obligation to pay an amount to William for Emily or Eric.
If you are claiming deductible support payments, enter on line 230 of your income tax and benefit return the total amount of support payments you paid under all court orders and written agreements, including any non deductible child support payments you made. Do not include amounts you paid that are more than the amounts specified in the order or agreement, such as pocket money or gifts that you sent directly to your children.
Enter on line 220 the deductible part of the support payments that you paid.
Ensure that both line 230 and line 220 are completed correctly to avoid your claim being delayed or disallowed.
You also have to register your court order or written agreement with us. For more information, see Registering your court order or written agreement.
Diane and Gene recently divorced. In their court order made in December 2012, Gene was ordered to pay Diane $1,000 per month for their two children, and $500 per month for spousal support.
Gene started making monthly support payments of $1,500 in January, and paid a total of $18,000 for 2013.
Gene enters the total support payments amount of $18,000 on line 230 of his 2013 income tax and benefit return. On line 220, he enters the deductible part of his support payments, which is the spousal support amount of $6,000.
If you had to make payments for a child and you were separated from your spouse or common-law partner for only part of that year because of a breakdown in your relationship, you have a choice. You may claim either any deductible child or spousal support amounts paid for that year or, if you qualify, the allowable non-refundable tax credit, whichever is more beneficial to you.
If you reconciled before the end of that year and you choose to claim the spouse or common-law partner amount, you may also qualify to claim the non-refundable tax credit amounts transferred from your spouse or common-law partner.
If you are claiming non-refundable tax credit amounts instead of the support payments, enter the total support paid on line 230, and zero on line 220. Otherwise, we will have no record of your payments.
If you have more than one recipient to whom you are making support payments, your tax situation may vary. For more information, see Interpretation Bulletin IT-530, Support Payments.
Roger and Mary separated on September 1, 2013. Under the terms of the written agreement, beginning on that date Roger pays $300 monthly in spousal support. Mary had no other income in 2013.
When filing his 2013 income tax and benefit return, Roger could deduct either:
- the support he paid = $1,200 ($300 × 4 months); or
- the spouse or common-law partner amount for Mary (line 303 of the income tax and benefit return).
Since Mary had no other income, Roger would be entitled to the full spouse or common-law partner amount. Therefore, Roger decides to claim the spouse or common-law partner amount at line 303 since it is the most beneficial. He should enter the amount of support he paid on line 230 and enter zero on line 220.
Mary has to report the $1,200 she received in support payments on her 2013 income tax and benefit return.
If your support payments fell into arrears, and you made one lump-sum payment (of at least $3,000 that you can deduct and the recipient has to report as income) to bring your requirements for previous years up to date, give the recipient of the support payments a completed Form T1198, Statement of Qualifying Retroactive Lump Sum Payment. For more information, see Lump-sum payments.
A reimbursement of support payments received under a court order must be included in income on lines 156 and 128 of your income tax and benefit return for the year it is received. This applies if you deduct the amount on that income tax and benefit return, or if you deducted it in a previous year.
A payer cannot claim legal fees (at line 220, 221, or 232) incurred to:
- get a separation or divorce;
- establish, negotiate, or contest the amount of support payments; or
- establish child custody or visitation rights.
When you file your income tax and benefit return, do not send any documents. Keep them in case we ask to see them.
However, if we ask for receipts, acceptable receipts must indicate your name, the date of payment, and the amount you paid.
Any of the following receipts may be accepted to support your claim:
- cancelled cheques or cheque images (you must submit legible photocopies of both sides of the cheque);
- bank and employer statements if they indicate a transfer of funds from the payer's account or paycheque to either the recipient's account or to a provincial agency and the amounts are equal or less than the amounts specified in the court order or written agreement;
- statement or letter from the maintenance enforcement program (for example, provincial agency) supporting the actual amount of support paid under the court order or written agreement; or
- signed receipts from the recipient showing the total amount paid in the year.
If you are reporting taxable support payments, enter on line 156 of your income tax and benefit return the total amount of support payments you received under a court order or written agreement. This includes any support payments you received under a social assistance arrangement.
Do not include amounts you received that are more than the amounts specified in the order or agreement, such as pocket money or gifts that your children received directly from the payer.
Enter on line 128 the taxable part of support payments you received.
Complete both line 156 and line 128 correctly to avoid a delay in assessing your income tax and benefit return.
You also may have to register your court order or written agreement with us. For more information, see Registering your court order or written agreement.
Diane and Gene recently divorced. In their court order made in December 2012, Gene was ordered to pay Diane $1,000 per month for their two children, and $500 per month in spousal support.
Monthly support payments of $1,500 began in January, making a total support payments amount of $18,000 for 2013.
Diane enters the total support payments amount of $18,000 on line 156 of her 2013 income tax and benefit return. On line 128, she enters the taxable part of the support payments she received, which is the spousal support amount of $6,000.
If you received a payment before the end of the year, you have to include it in income for that year, as long as it meets the conditions outlined earlier. You cannot delay including a payment in income by not cashing the cheque.
If you received a lump-sum support payment, parts of which were for previous years, you have to report the whole payment in the year the lump-sum payment is received.
However, if the amount that applies to previous years is $3,000 or more (not including interest), you can ask us to tax the parts for the previous years as if they were received in those years.
We will do this for the amount that applies to years throughout which you were resident in Canada and only if it is to your advantage for tax purposes.
The payer of the support payments should give you a completed Form T1198, Statement of Qualifying Retroactive Lump-Sum Payment. Include this form with your income tax and benefit return to ask us for this special tax calculation on a retroactive lump-sum payment. We will tell you the results on your notice of assessment or notice of reassessment.
If you repaid support payments because of a court order, you may be able to claim a deduction on line 220 of your income tax and benefit return for that year (or in either of the following two years). You can claim this deduction if you reported the original support payments you received as income on that same tax return or on a previous year's tax return, and you have not already claimed a deduction for the repayment.
A recipient can deduct, on line 221 of their income tax and benefit return, legal fees paid to:
- collect late support payments;
- establish the amount of support payments from their current or former spouse or common law partner;
- establish the amount of support payments from the legal parent of their child (who is not their current or former spouse or common law partner) where the support is payable under the terms of a court order; or
- try to get an increase in support payments.
A recipient can also deduct, on line 232 of their income tax and benefit return, legal fees paid to try to make child support payments non taxable.
A recipient cannot claim legal fees incurred to:
- get a separation or divorce; or
- establish child custody or visitation rights.
Legal fees paid to collect a lump-sum payment, which does not qualify as a support payment are not deductible (see Lump-sum payments).
You may formally assign or transfer your rights to your support payments to your provincial government, in order to receive social assistance. If you have transferred your rights to your support payments, report the total amounts you received on line 156 (and any taxable part on line 128). These amounts are not included in box 11 of Form T5007, Statement of Benefits.
When you file your income tax and benefit return, do not include your receipts or cancelled cheques, or your court order or written agreement. Keep them in case we ask to see them.
If a court order or written agreement requires payment of spousal support, it must be registered with us. By doing so, we are able to verify the part of your payments that is spousal support and, if applicable, the part that is child support. You will also avoid unnecessary delays and adjustments to your income tax and benefit return.
To register your court order or written agreement, follow the instructions on Form T1158, Registration of Family Support Payments. Do not include your order or agreement with your income tax and benefit return.
Notify us if the spousal or child support payable changes from the amount originally registered (other than cost of living adjustments or changes already provided for in the court order or written agreement).
Do not register your court order or written agreement if it requires child support payments only.
Complete a separate Form T1158 for each court order or written agreement you are registering.
If you are employed and you make deductible support payments, you can ask us to authorize the reduction of the amount of income tax that your employer is deducting from your pay.
Send a completed Form T1213, Request to Reduce Tax Deductions at Source, to your tax services office.
If you qualify, you can take our letter of authority to your employer to adjust the tax deducted from your pay.
If you are employed and you receive taxable support payments, you may want to increase the amount of tax that is deducted from your pay.
To increase tax deducted from your pay, give your employer a completed Form TD1, Personal Tax Credits Return.
Payments made after the death of the recipient are not deductible by the payer. Whether the payments are made to the estate or to the children, these payments would not meet the conditions of a support payment.
Payments made by the estate of a payer to the recipient are neither deductible nor taxable. The amounts do not meet the conditions of a support payment because an estate cannot have a spouse or common-law partner.
If you are a resident of Canada who makes support payments to a non-resident, you do not have to withhold tax on the payments. You can deduct the payments if the conditions are met.
If you are a resident of Canada who receives support payments from a resident of another country, you have to include the payments in income if the conditions are met.
However, if the support payments you reported as income are tax-free in Canada because of a tax agreement (treaty) between Canada and the other country, you may be able to claim a deduction for them (see line 256 in the General Income Tax and Benefit Guide).
If the other country withheld tax from the support payments you reported as income, and if you have to pay tax on those payments on your income tax and benefit return, you may be able to claim a foreign tax credit (see line 405 in the General Income Tax and Benefit Guide).
Carol and Doug divorced on December 9, 2012. Doug resides in Australia. Carol is a Canadian resident. Under a court order, Doug paid Carol $500 a month in spousal support beginning January 1, 2013.
Under the terms of the Canada—Australia Income Tax Treaty, alimony and other maintenance payments are only taxable in the source country. The payment is taxable only in Australia.
Carol must report $6,000 on lines 128 and 156 of her income tax and benefit return. Carol also claims $6,000 as a deduction on line 256 because of the provisions of the Canada Australia income tax treaty.
For tax treaty information, visit the Department of Finance Canada Web site.
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